Synergies to protect Global Heritage
Cooperation with other Conventions and programmes
The World Heritage Committee recognises the benefits of closer coordination and synergies between global conservation instruments (Operational Guidelines Paragraphs 41-44).
The World Heritage Centre reports to the World Heritage Committee annually on synergies with other culture and biodiversity-related Conventions.
Synergies at the
How we use synergies and data on multiple protections at WHC on a daily basis.
Review of working methods, planning for statutory meetings, resource mobilization...
Contribute towards conserving and sustainably using biodiversity.
the international site
Coordination and cooperation among the key international site-based designations.
Synergies at the World Heritage Centre
Over 15% of World Heritage Properties are protected by at least 1 other multilateral agreement or programme. The World Heritage Centre collects and presents relevant information in its database.
The World Heritage List
The World Heritage database incorporates overlapping protections to provide a more advanced search functionality, facilitating States Parties, researchers, NGO's and individuals to extract very specific data and graphs. Every World Heritage Property page has an additional box with links to their corresponding protections.
The Periodic Reporting Cycle 3 uses Synergies to question the States Parties and Site Managers on how they cooperate with the different conservation instruments and how overlapping protection is being used to ensure the conservation of heritage.
At the World Heritage Centre, we use Synergies to keep our databases updated on the latest developments on global conservation for both cultural and biodiversity-related World Heritage Properties. Through very specific searches on The List, anyone can generate meaningful graphs and data tables with an extensive set of filters.
Synergies among UNESCO Culture Conventions
Review of working methods, planning for statutory meetings and coordination of funding and resource mobilization ...
Further to Decisions 33 COM 5 and 34 COM 5E adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) and 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) respectively, the World Heritage Centre prepared an information document to the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session (Saint Petersburg, 2012) to provide an update on the relationships between the 1972 Convention and the other UNESCO conventions in the field of culture.
UNESCO has established the Culture Conventions Liaison Group (CCLG) to reinforce synergies among its six culture conventions. The work includes review of working methods, planning for statutory meetings and coordination of funding and resource mobilization.
UNESCO also coordinates meetings of the chairpersons of the intergovernmental committees of the six UNESCO Culture Conventions, who met for the first time in Bonn, Germany, on 29 June 2015, on the occasion of the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee. The statement by the chairs recognizes the importance to enhance the synergies and mutual reinforcement among the conventions, and encourages further sustained efforts to achieve this goal.
The second meeting of the chairpersons of the committees of UNESCO culture conventions was organised at UNESCO Headquarters on 26 September 2016. The chairs discussed safeguarding cultural heritage and cultural diversity in times of conflict and the role of the culture conventions in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Synergies among biodiversity-related Conventions
Enhanced coordination and cooperation at different levels
Although each of the seven biodiversity-related Convention is different, they all contribute towards conserving and sustainably using biodiversity. Therefore, enhanced coordination and cooperation at different levels can be mutually beneficial, leading to effective implementation. A detailed report on synergies between the World Heritage Convention and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) was provided to the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). An update of this cooperation was provided within an information document presented to the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint Petersburg, 2012).
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is a member of the Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions, a key mechanism for interaction among the Secretariats of the seven key biodiversity-related conventions. UNESCO also takes part in a number of other initiatives to increase coordination and cooperation, including the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (InforMEA) to improve knowledge sharing.
The World Heritage Convention can significantly contribute to the objectives of other biodiversity-related Conventions and vice versa. The World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands are the only two biodiversity conventions with a specific focus on site based conservation. Moreover, many World Heritage properties and Ramsar sites across the five continents contain critical habitats and refuges vital for migratory birds, contributing to the objectives of the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS).
The World Heritage Committee has also expressed its concerns about the impacts of poaching and the illicit wildlife trade on World Heritage properties and called for strengthened cooperation with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (Decision 40 COM 7). Several World Heritage properties are also monitored by CITES under its Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme. A report on these interlinkages has been provided by the CITES secretariat, including a summary of discussions between the Secretariats.
The secretariats of the seven biodiversity related conventions also carry out joint awareness raising activities, which have included Joint Statement by the Liaison Group of the Biodiversity-related Conventions on the occasion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 25-27 September 2015, and Message from biodiversity-related conventions: UN Sustainable Development Goals and the CBD Aichi Biodiversity Targets on the occasion of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress.
The Policy Document for the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into the Processes of the World Heritage Convention adopted by the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention at its 20th session (Paris, 2015) recognises that in implementing the Convention, States Parties should promote environmental sustainability more generally at all World Heritage properties in order to ensure policy coherence and mutual supportiveness with other multilateral environmental agreements.
The effective and timely implementation of the different Conventions requires active involvement and collaboration between national focal points and responsible national authorities. A number of resources already exists on the options and opportunities to increase synergies and harmonised implementation of the biodiversity-related conventions. For a list of useful resources, see also World Heritage and Biodiversity.
Synergies among the international site designations
Key international site-based designations
Within the United Nations, UNESCO has a unique mandate to designate natural areas of significance for all humanity. It does so through three intergovernmental instruments – the World Heritage Convention, the Man and the Biosphere Programme, with its World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme.
The four key international site-based designations, including the World Heritage properties, the Biosphere Reserves, the UNESCO Global Geoparks, and the Ramsar Sites under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands have both similarities and differences. UNESCO has published a quick reference guide to help understand how the different site based conservation instruments function, how they differ, and how they complement each other. Moreover, UNESCO has been active in communicating the opportunities for synergies and a special issue of the World Heritage review (No. 70) is devoted to synergies for protecting sites.
UNESCO supports coordination and cooperation among the designation mechanisms, which is particularly important at areas recognised simultaneously under several international designations. IUCN, in close collaboration with UNESCO and the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, has published guidance on harmonising the management of Multi-Internationally Designated Areas (MIDAs).
The World Heritage Committee recognises the advantages of synergies between the World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Convention, calling upon joint reactive monitoring missions to sites which are covered under both Conventions, such as Doňana National Park in Spain, Ichkeul National Park in Tunisia, Djoudj National Park in Senegal and Virunga National Park in DRC.
In July 2021, UNESCO’s side event at the High-Level Political Forum 2021 showcased solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation, using concrete examples from UNESCO's unique global network of designated sites, which are important models for building resilience to climate change and reconciling people and nature. The event on 6 July 2021 was opened and moderated by Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences. She shared a message from Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the relevant activities of more than 2,000 UNESCO designated sites to promote sustainable solutions. The UNESCO global network of sites covers approximately 6% of the Earth’s landmass and comprises 1,154 World Heritage Sites, 714 Biosphere Reserves and 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks distributed all over the world.
World Heritage and Biodiversity
Man and Biosphere Programme
UNESCO Global Geoparks
Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions
UNESCO and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) Joint Programme on Biological and Cultural Diversity
UNEP – Coherence and Synergy on the Implementation of MEAs
UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre – Synergies among MEAs
UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre – Harmonization of National Reporting
- World Wetlands Day 2018: Wetlands and cities 02-Feb-2018
- Sweden provides additional support to UNESCO’s Cultural Conventions and freedom of expression 22-Dec-2017
- Inter-Convention synergy in action 06-Dec-2017
- Ramsar and World Heritage: lasting cooperation to foster conservation 05-Oct-2017
- World Wetlands Day 2017: Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction 02-Feb-2017
- Invitation: Side event at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 06-Jul-2021-06-Jul-2021
- Synergies in South America: Defining the UNESCO/Category 2 Centre 'Lucio Costa' (2018-2019) Agenda 29-Aug-2018-31-Aug-2018